Trigger change by targeting beyond guns

Guns don’t create evil — people do.

Guns are mere objects. Constructed of aluminum and steel and branded with company logos, they have no thoughts, harbor no feelings and produce no motives.

It is the person behind the trigger that matters; yet, whenever gun violence or mass shootings grip the media headlines, the gun control debate is triggered, and guns are the first thing to be targeted.

James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Seung-Hui Cho and most recently, Aaron Alexis were not men with guns locked up set to go hunting next weekend, shoot at the range tomorrow afternoon or carry them around in the name of self-defense for them and their families either.

These were men who were mentally deranged.

Some were intent on inflicting pain and horror – a pain and horror unfathomable to “normal” thinking individuals. Others were intent on satisfying their sick desires and fantasies.

In either case, the guns were mere objects, and not the source of evil. The source of evil was those pulling the trigger.

Mental illness, however, cannot solely bear responsibility of gun violence occurring everyday in America, typically outside of major media coverage.

Just two and a half hours northeast of Peoria, Chicago is the poster child for gun violence.

Plagued by broken families — a nearly non-existent traditional nuclear family structure, poverty and low education levels—Chicago has become a breeding ground for gun violence. Unfortunately, Peoria is home to many areas mirroring such circumstances as well.

In the city’s roughest neighborhoods, evil may not come in the form of running into a movie theater or school and randomly shooting people, but those behind the triggers in such communities are just as dangerous.

It is the attitudes of those behind the trigger, whether for a false sense of belonging, a lack of respect for humanity or some other unknown reason, which causes one to shoot and kill others.

A gun is merely an object. It does not determine whether the thug flashing one’s rival gang colors is one’s next victim or whether the drug trade gone wrong warrants a bullet out of its barrel. People who seek to do harm and bring evil into this world control all of that.

Do not blame an object for one’s inability to recognize the value of human life and have such utter disregard for it that shooting him or her is an accepted option.

The failure to recognize and respond to the problem in a larger sense than just gun control won’t trigger real change. Those who seek to inflict pain and terror in the lives of others will find whatever means necessary.

With this mindset, a fork is responsible for making one fat, as is a can of spray paint for vandalism and a butter knife for a stabbing.

Stop blaming a mere object for the lack of respect for human life, seen far too often in communities across the U.S. Change won’t happen overnight, and gun violence will never fully be eradicated.

When people begin to confront the highly complex and often uncomfortable issues correlated with gun violence and mass shootings beyond a mere object, lives can and will be saved.